Pasteis de Bacalhau are my new favorite things, they are a staple here in Portugal and every household knows how to make them. Except me, when I tried to make them they just weren't as nice as the ones we've had in the pastelarias. When I explained this in bad Portuguese to our neighbours, Ana and Joaquim, they invited us and the neighbours over for a lesson.
Bit of a shame that no one told me that despite the invite saying 6pm, they'd be making them at 3pm ready for the evening. At 3pm I was walking back up a mountain in blistering heat and my water bottle running low!
But we have such lovely neighbours, Ana and Joaquim photographed the lesson and here it is, how to make Pasteis de Bacalhau Pera style!
250 grams of bacalhau (you get it frozen in the UK, but here they soak it for DAYS)
200 grams of potatoes
half an onion and a clove of garlic
pinch or two of spice
one cap full of port
3 or 4 eggs
oil for frying
This is Joaquim, our neighbour - he starts by peeling the potatoes (having soaked his salt cod for three days or having got the frozen salt cod defrosted). Put the potatoes onto boil until they are soft.
Cook the salt cod by boiling it so it softens through.
Now shred the fish and mash it up a bit!
Now mash up your soft potatoes and add them into the bowl with the fish. Put your chopped up onion and garlic into a pan and heat through with some olive oil.
Add your warmed through onions to your fish and potatoes, then thrown in your salt, pepper, parsley, port and spice, mix it all in so it is well combined. Add it three beaten eggs and mix, your mixture should be sticky and still stick to the spoon and not be too soft. If you need another egg add it at this stage and mix well. Use your hands to do the mixing - it's traditional.
Now let the mixture rest for a moment, put it in the fridge for a while. Have a swig of the port.
Make some quenelles using the two spoons. Just move the mixture from spoon to spoon, forming a rugby ball shape. Traditionally a mans job!
Once you have made a few, test the oil by dropping a small amount of mixture in. If it bubbles around the mixture you are ready to FRY.
Carefully drop in your cod cakes, they shouldn't take long to cook, just a few mins. Turn them once so both sides are brown. Now you need to multi task (sorry), keep an eye on the ones cooking, keep making the cod cakes, take the cooked ones out and put them on kitchen paper to drain.
You should have enough mixture to make a mountain of cod cakes. So give some away to friends, or get a load of people round to enjoy them. Best served cold at room temp, with rice and beans and a salad. Totally lovely.
Oh and here we all are enjoying them!